'I.T.': Film Review
Pierce Brosnan stars in John Moore’s digital home-invasion thriller alongside James Frecheville and Anna Friel.
Somehow it seems a shame that the considerable resources devoted to I.T. weren’t invested in improving the woefully predictable script. Drawing on familiar issues of personal and digital privacy, as well as contemporary fascination with the unreliability of the wired world, co-writers Dan Kay and William Wisher fall back on a stereotypical revenge narrative template with too many implausible plot twists to be persuasive. With Brosnan starring, the film will certainly draw some attention, although theatrical numbers may be eclipsed by VOD.
Brosnan plays high-flying CEO Mike Regan, who operates a top-drawer private jet leasing service, which he’s preparing to take public in an IPO filing. With just a few more formalities to be completed with the SEC, he’ll soon have access to a crucial infusion of cash to expand his business. His wife Rose (Anna Friel) knows how stressed out he is, but teenage daughter Kaitlyn (Stefanie Scott), distracted by her devices and school work, remains primarily concerned that the wifi signal on their smart-home network keeps fading out.
Mike’s an old-school type with a barely restrained hostility toward digital technology, but after office-temp IT tech Ed Porter (Frecheville) bails him out when his laptop presentation goes haywire during an important pre-IPO meeting, Mike invites Ed over to his home to sort out the pesky wifi issue. Noting the numerous control panels with built-in cameras installed throughout the house, Ed tunes up the network and gets himself a permanent job in the bargain, which was exactly his goal anyway after getting an eyeful of Kaitlyn sunbathing by the outdoor pool.
After gaining the inside track on his boss, Ed tries to press his advantage by insinuating himself into family activities and befriending Kaitlyn. Mike soon realizes that his employee is becoming overly familiar, but by the time he tries to shut Ed out, the tech expert has already positioned himself to take control of Mike’s fully wired home. As Ed begins wreaking remote havoc on Mike’s life, threatening his family, hijacking their online identities and derailing his business plans, Mike realizes that in order to return fire, he’s going to have to adopt similar tactics.
Even casual viewers alerted by a constant stream of news and entertainment stories concerning digital privacy, catfishing and intrusive Internet tactics will immediately recognize Mike’s numerous missteps as he blithely invites a stranger into his home. Ed’s claims of former national security connections should at least raise questions if nothing else, but Mike takes them entirely in stride, even though his business tactics are far more focused and strategic.
This inherent disconnect is exacerbated by Brosnan’s performance, which equates Mike’s aversion to the digital universe with virtually complete ignorance about how it operates -- an indulgence that any contemporary CEO can hardly afford. Deprived of a more competent persona, Brosnan’s action scenes confronting his antagonist come across as crudely violent and not especially effective. Frecheville embodies the authentically creepy vibe of an online stalker emerging into the complications of real life, but never achieves the level of menace required to pose a credible threat.
As Mike’s loyal but mostly uncritical wife, Friel is far better at conveying victimization than she is at defending her family. Even Scott, who’s shown substantial promise in recent releases like Insidious: Chapter Three and Jem and the Holograms, demonstrates more spirit as Rose’s wronged daughter. Michael Nyqvist, playing a shadowy security expert who assists Mike in dealing with his unwanted admirer, has had many more impressive turns than this underwhelming supporting role. One plus: Brosnan speaks in his native accent, which seems appropriate since the production was shot in Ireland.
Fellow Irishman John Moore appears to struggle with a feature significantly downsized from previous productions he's helmed, like A Good Day to Die Hard and Max Payne. With limited, mostly interior, locations and few big-budget set pieces, he seems a bit adrift relying more on character conflict than gunfights and explosions. DP Ekkehart Pollack knows a thing or two about generating atmosphere and tension with expressive lighting and dynamic camera movement; too bad it’s not in service of a better product.
Distributor: RLJ Entertainment
Production company: Voltage Pictures
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, James Frecheville, Anna Friel, Stefanie Scott, Austin Swift, Michael Nyqvist
Director: John Moore
Screenwriter: Dan Kay, William Wisher
Producer: David T. Friendly, Beau St. Clair, Nicolas Chartier, Craig J. Flores
Executive producers: Pierce Brosnan, Elika Portnoy, Valentina Gardani, Dominic Rustam, Frank Hildebrand
Director of photography: Ekkehart Pollack
Production designer: Marcus Rowland
Costume designer: Driscoll Calder
Editor: Ivan Andrijanic
Music: Timothy Williams
Casting director: Eyde Belasco
Not rated, 95 minutes